Summer, I must have mentionned it many times already, takes the toll of of us all here in Mumbai. The most common complaint from my friends is about cooking, there is nothing more daunting and torturing than standing in front of a hot stove for hours when it is already steaming hot outside the kitchen.
Many confessed they would just be about fine to live on just veggies, dahi, and salads, but end up cooking more than they want because their in-laws or husband refuse to change their habits. I have others friends who would love to go off the beaten track but don't know how.
I myself am not bound by traditions, and since DH likes his north Indian food in the tiffin, I delegated the task to the maid ages ago. It is not worth the hassle for me to cook these anymore when we can afford a compromise that works for both parties.
And while I love to cook, Summer is that time I keep it to a strict minimum, as a rule (albeit unspoken) I don't spend more than 15 minutes standing in front of my stove in the Summer, a dish can require longer cooking and still be a Summer dish, as long as it doesn't pin me to the kitchen the whole time. I put a list of things that makes it to the menu during the Summer, some continental, some Indians, as long as it fits my no sweat requirement it is fine by me.
Here is the list of dishes that made it to my lunch table (dinner is almost always just fruits and yogurt during the hot months):
Idli with tomato chutney
A breakfast dish in theory, but try it for lunch, it is filling enough, and if you cook the idli in the rice cooker at the same time you prepare the chutney, you have a a dish in 15 minutes with only about 5 minutes of prep time and stove cooking.
Rocket and mango salad
Aloo methi salad
This is a good old Summer classic of continental cuisine, and it can be made a million way, it all start with boiled and cooled down potatoes that you cube, add mayo, dahi, olive oil or a vinaigrette for the dressing, spring onions, parsley, walnuts, sultanas, chunk of pineapple, or apples or anything else if you wish, and you have a filling dish.
You can grill the chicken the night before, of roast a chicken in the oven, make chapati from scratch or buy those precooked one to spare you a sweat session, make a dressing with Mayo or dahi, and season as you wish, with wraps you can let your imagination go wild, and of course is you are vegetarian, you can make paneer or tofu wraps.
Chargrilled chicken served with fries and a garlic mayonnaise
Make the fries in the oven, grill the chicken chunks on a hot griddle, and crush fresh garlic in store bought mayo. A dish ready in 20 minutes because of the fries baking, the chicken needs minutes to grill.
Another classic, just cook some pasta the night before, store in a air tight container, add you choice of fresh veggies, or meat, or both, make a dressing with olive oil or mayo, season with herbs, and voila!
Raita served with naans and a green salad
I love a cucumber, tomato and onion raita, but whatever works for you will do great. Naans will cook in minutes, the dough need to rest for an hour at least, so knead it when it isn't too hot yet.
Dosa with dal and chutney
Dal cooks itself in the pressure cooker for the most part, dosa takes minutes on the stove, and the same applies to a chutney, which you can cook the night before, or early in the morning.
Oven roast chicken and roast tomatoes served with rice
The ultimate no sweat dish, the chicken cooks along with the tomatoes in one baking dish for about 45 minutes, the rice goes in the rice cooker, all cooks without you having to be more than a few minutes in the kitchen. The chicken needs to be rubbed in mustard and sprinkled in herbs, and you need to remember to pour a little water in the baking dish mid cooking.
Karela fry (bitter gourd)
Served with chapati or rice and some yogurt (dahi) on the side.
A slightly pricey option, but all you need a little practice to get it right. The rice cooks in the rice cooker before being cooled down, then making the seaweed rolls can be done quickly once you know how. They can be made with cooked prawns and canned tuna over here since raw fish is a risky thing to try. There are tons of vegetarian options as well.
And of course there are all the sandwiches variant I won't list there, too many of them. And contrary to what people might thing, vegetarian sandwiches are as filling as non-veg ones provided you include a protein part to it, be it cheese, paneer, or tofu, or even a rich heavy filling like avocado. If you prefer sticking to Indian food, the best is to downsize. Make it or a vegetable, or a dal dish served with chapati, use fresh dahi or a cucumber salad as a cooling filler side dish. In Summer most people feel less hungry anyway.